The Plans, They Are a-Changing

Well friends, it has been a wonderful past week!
My plans have had to alter a bit, as I did not get to go to Scotland as I had planned (believe me, I was extremely bummed!), but I did end up having a lovely weekend nonetheless.
            I did indeed go to Valentine’s day formal, and it was a lovely occasion. I sat next to some delightful individuals, ate good food, and had a lovely pint of cider afterwards. Nothing terribly romantic occurred, which is all the better because it would’ve only distracted from the fun I had ;).  There were some interesting bits in terms of food presentation: First of all they tried to shape the potatoes into heart shapes (while the effort was appreciated, they came out looking rather like spiked, oblong, pac-men), next there were stuffed mushrooms filled with a white cheese and then topped by a brown thing and a red dollop of something (it was a little bit ago…), all that to say, while it had the colors of love it reminded me of the Eye of Mordor which I thought an amusing addition to our Valentine’s day meal. The meal was finished with delicious strawberry shortbread that I could hardly finish off because it was such a big portion after a hefty serving of food.
After Formal my weekend was basically spent non-stop in either the library or my room. I had papers due in classes on Early American Literature (writing on the myth of Irving’s Rip Van Winkle), Medieval-Renaissance Literature (exploring the tale of Sir Gareth as a romance narrative in Le Morte d’Arthur), and my class on Paradise Lost (writing a commentary on lines 1.392-407). In the end, I felt pretty happy with my papers and managed to turn them all in electronically with 5min to spare before the deadline. This past Thursday, if you had been in the Hawthorne’s from around 8am-12pm you would’ve seen a weary looking girl (4hrs of sleep), surrounded by books on Milton trying to expound upon the importance of the narrative concerning the pagan god Moloch in Milton’s epic. 12pm came and it was a glorious moment indeed of sweet relief and delirium.
            As a side, I met a lovely woman named Ursula King who was the former head of the theology dept at Univ of Bristol. We were connected through a friend in IN, and it was fascinating to hear about her work in Patristics, as well as her work in promoting interfaith dialogue. It was a fantastic coffee date (I barely finished my coffee because I was listening so intently). She mentioned that she would like to have me to dinner sometime in the future. Who knows if that will happen, I hope it does, but even if that isn’t possible, it was so good to have such a stimulating conversation with one that has had much experience both academically as well as experientially in life.
So, what happened to Scotland? Well, it turns out there were not enough spots filled in the group for the trip to take place. Much to my dismay, I received an email on Thursday evening informing me of this very fact. But, I didn’t want to let one hiccup of scheduling interrupt my plans to go out adventuring. So, I planned with my friend Meg to gather a group of other Study Abroad students to go hiking in a place called Cheddar Gorge. We resolved over dinner on Friday at a place called, “The Burger Joint” that we would get back to our respective homes and plan how to get there. *Sidenote, the burgers we had that night were some of the best I have ever tasted! Whether it was the meat preparation, the ciabatta bun, the garlic and herb mayo, or the English mustard I cannot say, but the cohesion of these elements all produced a Burger of one of the highest qualities I have tasted! Also, the sweet potato fries were thick wedges that were crispy on the outside and just mushy enough on the inside that you felt like you were eating fries and mashed sweet potatoes in one bite!
So, Meg and I planned we would take a train around 10am and from there take a bus into Cheddar and hike the Cheddar Gorge.
I woke up on Saturday, grabbed breakfast and started to walk on my merry way to the bus stop. My plan was to get the 9:26 #9 to Temple Meads; this bus would deposit me there with 20mins to spare before my train left. As I was walking across the downs (a wide swath of flat land separating Wills from the top of Black Boy Hill/the beginning of Bristol’s developed area), I saw the #8 bus (I was looking for either the #8/9 since both went to Temple Meads train station) and thought, “Maybe I can get there even earlier!” So I started running across the downs and was waving my hands at the driver who, I am convinced, idled at the stop just long enough for me to think I could catch the bus before he maliciously closed the divided doors, cackling maliciously as he saw my efforts fall to nothing.
While a bit of a downer, the other stop for the #9 was just a couple hundred feet away and I had 5min to spare before it arrived. I get to the stop and am reading the schedule when I see the number 9 pull right by me. Turns out that I by standing in the bus stop, which faced away from the road,  the driver either missed or ignored my frantic waves for him to stop. This left me in a conundrum. It took about 40min to get to the station, and my time was beginning to run out. I decided to call Meg and realized my phone was out of money. I ran over to the neighboring gas station, refilled my account and dashed back to the bus stop.
I asked multiple drivers if they were going to Temple Meads before I got on the #54 around 9:35. I sat there hoping and praying I would make it on time. After a bit we came to a stop where I felt a strong urge to jump out and start running to catch the train (it left at 10:12 and it was 10:04). I ignored this urge, assuring myself that the bus would get me there faster than my legs. As we pulled away from the stop I realized in horror that we were pulling away from the Temple Meads station itself! I go up and beg the driver to let me out on the next corner, but he pointed to a security monitor in the corner and said he would be fired if he did that. So, we drove another ¼ of a mile before the next stop. At this point I buckled all the straps of my backpack across my chest and my waist and started sprinting towards the station (stupidly dodging a few cars along the way). I got there and found out from Meg that the train didn’t leave for another 10min, meaning I had gotten there in time to go on the Hiking trip I had helped plan!
            There were a few other adventures before we got to Cheddar Gorge, such as finding the bus from Weston Sutton-Mare that would take us to Cheddar (obviously it was the bus stop that listed every bus except the #126 to Wells on its board). We arrived in Cheddar (a very quaint village) and went hiking up and down and all around the lovely, overcast, and muddy landscape.

After hiking we went to a local pub and got a few drinks in front of a warm fire. I had a warm and spicy mulled wine that had bits of orange floating in it. It was soothing and refreshing. We then caught our bus back to Weston (where we learned our train wasn’t leaving for another hour), and took up post in the train stations pub where I got a half-pint of a cider that tasted like bacon. I am not kidding, I have four other people that back up my taste buds on this point. You sipped the cider, tasted a heavy smokiness and then tasted bacon as the finish. While this may have been a selling point for some, it was not my favorite. Thankfully it was only £1.50, so no big loss on my part. We got back to Bristol, grabbed falafel for dinner, and then went to a pub and talked until about midnight. It was a great Saturday!

            This week I have classes and a lot of reading again, and this weekend I will (hopefully) be going to Snowdonia National Park in Wales where I hope to hike Mt. Snowdon! I am very excited bout this prospect. Also, this week will include settling some of my final travel plans for Easter break. I will be working on tickets, train schedules, and hostel reservations. I am extremely excited, especially since my last week of break my mom and sister Emily will be coming to visit me in Bristol and from there we will go adventuring into Ireland. I can’t wait!
Well that’s all from me right now! I hope you all have a wonderful day. And please feel free to drop me a line with an update about any adventures you’ve been having recently, I’d love to hear your stories!